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Urgent Action Still Needed for Beneficiaries

We are pleased to see the Government has established an expert advisory group for the welfare overhaul. However, changes they suggest are not likely to be made for a year or so yet, which doesn't help people in the here and now.

Many people are still living on inadequate benefit levels that are insufficient for their weekly needs, that are tested on gross wages if they or their partner have paid-work, with unsatisfactorily low levels of tertiary assistance and some with sanctions imposed upon their benefits.

These people need urgent help now, not just in a year or so. Working on making the welfare system better in the future should not be an excuse for doing nothing in the meantime to improve matters for beneficiaries. For example, the Government promised to remove the 70A deduction imposed on caregivers who did not name the (other) legal parent of their child. There is no proof that this sanction did any good for the Government and we at BAS have seen plenty of evidence that it was harmful for many parents who were forced to survive on even less. This was quite a polarising issue where many people against scrapping the sanction would go off on a tangent on why it was a bad idea, ignoring the actual matter at hand, which was it is wrong to reduce an already minimal benefit paid to people who care for children. The biggest losers here are the children, and this benefits no one.

Rebecca Occleston is the Speaker for Beneficiary Advisory Service (BAS)

BAS is a Christchurch based Community Group who help people on benefits and low incomes with their problems with Work and Income, providing FREE advice, information, support and advocacy.


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